There are millions of bacteria in your gut, collectively known as the microbiome. This bacteria plays a vital role in basic life functions. Interestingly, the food you eat greatly affects the types of bacteria that live in your body.
To keep your gut happy and healthy, you can incorporate these healthy habits into your diet.
1. Eat fermented foods that contain live microbes.
Fermented foods – like kimchi, sauerkraut, and kombucha – contain lactobacilli, a type of healthy bacteria. This helps crowd out the “bad bacteria”, and ultimately helps promote a healthy balance of bacteria in the intestines. Set a goal of eating one or two fermented foods daily to get the most benefits from these foods.
2. Stock up on veggies.
Get your fill of seasonal and high-fiber vegetables. Different varieties support different microbial species, so it’s important to take advantage of nutritious veggies. Some veggies you should consider adding to your diet are artichokes, leeks, onions, and garlic.
3. Eat a plant-based diet.
One small study found that a plant-based diet led to reduced levels of disease-causing bacteria in obese people. This diet also resulted in reduced weight, inflammation, and cholesterol levels.
4. Skip the artificial sweeteners.
Artificial sweeteners reduce gut diversity and disrupt the metabolism of microbes. Sweeteners also feed bad bacteria and can cause gastrointestinal distress in the form of gas, bloating, and diarrhea. One study also found that aspartame reduced weight gain but increased blood sugar and impaired insulin response. It also resulted in an increase in “bad bacteria” associated with causing disease.
5. Incorporate prebiotics into your diet.
Most prebiotics contain beneficia microbes that can help “seed” the digestive tract with bacteria that support a healthy microbiome. Certain prebiotics can also help reduce insulin and cholesterol levels in obese individuals.
You can incorporate prebiotic foods into your diet by opting to include fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
Additionally, one way to help diversify the bacteria in your microbiome is by opting to take a prebiotic supplement. Prebiotic supplements act like intestinal fertilizers that stimulate the growth of healthy bacteria in the gut. If you go this route, be sure to choose a supplement that contains a large number of different bacteria strains.